Martinsburg celebrates Hometown Christmas

December 03, 2005|By CANDICE BOSLEY

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Frosty the Snowman certainly was not going to melt Friday night during an appearance in Martinsburg's Hometown Christmas celebration - while the woman wearing the costume maintained she was warm inside.

Kathy Cole might have been one of the few people comfortable during the event, with cold temperatures drawing a smaller crowd than in years past and forcing Santa to move his wish-gathering operation indoors.

The temperature during the event was 28 degrees, but frequent wind gusts made it feel like 16 degrees with the wind chill factored in, according to the National Weather Service.


Those who did attend were full of enthusiasm. Jeff Redding, who helped to organize the event for Main Street Martinsburg, asked everyone to count down from 10 to light the city's Christmas tree in front of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library.

At the end of a boisterous countdown, Santa Claus clapped twice and the multicolored lights on the tree were supposed to illuminate.


Then, some lights on the lower portion of the tree lighted up.

Everyone grew quiet and waited for the rest to be turned on.


"The bulbs must be frozen," Redding shouted to the crowd and gestured to the tall tree. "That's the story we're going with tonight. But isn't she beautiful?"

Along with Frosty the Snowman, several other costumed characters attended, including Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, an angel, elves, a polar bear, and Raggedy Ann and Andy.

Many were portrayed by students at Martinsburg High School, including Justin Martin, who was dressed as a toy soldier.

"This is the only costume that would fit me," said Martin, 17, who is more than 6 feet tall.

"I always wanted to be a cartoon character. It's been a lifelong dream," he said, with assurances he was not being sarcastic. "I'm going to go work at Disneyland."

Lexi Rodgers, 16, was portraying Raggedy Ann, while Morgan Hunley portrayed her counterpart, Raggedy Andy.

"We've been walking around and greeting little kids and talking to them," Rodgers said. "They're all happy and smiles and waves. It really brings out the Christmas spirit."

Jeff Kershner and Michael McDaniel, both 15, portrayed elves they named Jimmy and Timmy.

Their green costumes were sparse and their pointy shoes consisted of little more than rubber - far from suitable for the weather.

"I can't feel my feet," Kershner said.

McDaniel was more excitable, shouting "Merry Christmas" to anyone who walked past or looked in his direction. He asked children what they wanted for Christmas.

"From dogs to iguanas to drawing boards" were the responses, he said. "I asked them if they ate their veggies."

Other events included a pet parade and singing. Normally Santa, who arrived on a mule-drawn wagon, greets children outside on the town square, but the weather forced him into a vacant downtown building that volunteers spent the day decorating.

A girl dressed in all black sat on the floor next to Santa, a clipboard on her lap. She was keeping track of whether the children had been good or bad and writing down their responses.

Maybe her results weren't too surprising, since catching a glimpse of the jolly fat man in the red suit tends to shorten memories and erase past shenanigans.

Her list consisted of all "good"s.

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